When our children were youngsters, ages three, five and eight, I thought that a 'sort of look alike' train with an engine pulling three cars would be something they and their young friends would enjoy riding in. I had an old Sears Roebuck five horsepower riding mower for our three acre lawn that had seen better days, yet the engine still was still in good shape.
I built a plywood wood frame around the mower that looked somewhat like a steam engine. Added a black thin sheet metal smokestack, headlight and phony cow catcher. At a recent auction I had lucked into purchasing a 24 inch brass steam whistle. This whistle could be tooted off a Sears portable air tank that could hold up to 200 pounds per square inch of air pressure from my large two horsepower air compressor, so I added the whistle to the frame and mounted the air tank under the frame beneath the smoke stack.
To make the three cars that the engine could pull I bought three each inexpensive Sears Roebuck two wheeled dollies shown below.
These dollies are normally used by moving men or whoever needs to move heavy cartons around. By welding some short pieces of angle iron to all four corners of each dolly I was able to bolt on some four inch wide by one inch thick yellow pine sides and ends to each dolly. Using 1/4 inch by one inch wide steel strap iron I then welded the front and rear attachment hitches to each end of each dolly and on the the rear of the engine. The finished train is illustrated below.
When ready to go, I charged up the air tank and blew three short blasts on the steam whistle which could be heard for about a mile. My children loved to ride in the cars, (on comfortable cushions) and so did all the neighbors' kids too. We had about three miles of semi-private roads in our subdivision that we could safely traverse. Happy to say, all the children eventually grew up and thought that train rides like this were only for little kiddies. IT WAS!